How fencing off country will boost beef production

LLS incentive programs proving a win-win for farmers

Beef
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Would you fence off your property to improve habitat?

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Jim Larkin, Clarefield, Binnaway, says fencing off woodland habitat will actually improve the production on the property.

Jim Larkin, Clarefield, Binnaway, says fencing off woodland habitat will actually improve the production on the property.

Binnaway producer Jim Larkin is currently fencing off 201 hectares of the Clarefield property to improve threatened species.

But rather than see it as a loss of land, the move will actually improve production on the beef and cropping enterprise.

Mr Larkin, who manages Clarefield, was one of the successful applicants for the Central West Local Land Services Biodiversity on Farm project and received $23,000 to install 3.7km of seven wire fencing and help improve the woodland habitat surrounding cleared flats.

That on-farm incentive was oversubscribed and the strong demand means they could become a permanent and regular feature.

Contrary to the rumours about habitat restoration, Mr Larkin is permitted to selectively graze the area for fire management within three years.

Jim Larkin, Clarefield, Binnaway, along the new fence line funded by the LLS Biodiversity on Farm project.

Jim Larkin, Clarefield, Binnaway, along the new fence line funded by the LLS Biodiversity on Farm project.

Previously joiner heifers would be among the stock grazing the area but Mr Larkin said by fencing it off he would be able to manage the land better.

"The overall picture is that we will split this in half and run another tank and trough and then you have got them walking half that distance (currently 2km to trough) or even less," he said.

"Instead of having this end high with feed and the other end bare as bare, you can control that grazing. It ticks the biodiversity box but it ticks a lot of boxes from an agricultural point of view as well."

Normally running 400 cows in a self-replacing Angus herd, numbers are back to 150 cows turning off stock at 12 to 14 months to feedlots.

Some of the woodland habitat.

Some of the woodland habitat.

Clarefield was a valuable site for LLS as it adjoins a nature reserve in the Warrumbungles area and featured at least 16 threatened species within a three kilometre radius.

The incentive projects offer producers assistance for stock fences, alternative watering points, weed control, pest control, supplementary plantings, site preparation, site management, cultural heritage surveys and technical support.

Central West Local Land Services Biodiversity on Farm project manager May Fleming said the projects showcased how conservation and production could work hand in hand and benefit each other.

Jim Larkin, Clarefield, Binnaway with Central West Local Land Services Biodiversity on Farm project manager May Fleming.

Jim Larkin, Clarefield, Binnaway with Central West Local Land Services Biodiversity on Farm project manager May Fleming.

"Landholders actually have some of the most amount of land within those priority areas and working with landholders for the benefit of production as well as conservation, there should be more of it," she said.

"They are not separate entities, they can go hand in hand and this is a perfect example where Jim is getting a great benefit out of it and so are the threatened species."

The small white dots marking the new fence.

The small white dots marking the new fence.

The aim of the project was to enhance and protect threatened species, which could be done without locking off country.

"The fact that we are not completely locking it up is another benefit too because it needs grazing," she said.

"You need to control some of the regrowth of certain species anyway.

Jim Larkin, Clarefield, Binnaway with Central West Local Land Services Biodiversity on Farm project manager May Fleming.

Jim Larkin, Clarefield, Binnaway with Central West Local Land Services Biodiversity on Farm project manager May Fleming.

"What we are hoping to see is probably some of the lower story and mid story return and as no timber or rocks get removed for that period...all that timber lying on the ground is habitat and it's encouraging hollows to form.

"The hope is that you will see the returning of those species."

Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall, said farmers were constantly demonised for managing their land when in fact they were some of the best conservationists.

"Farmers are the key environmental stewards in NSW and shoulder almost all the burden of actively improving the land for benefit of future generations," he said.

Incentive programs run at different times with different specifications across the 11 Local Land Services regions.

Interested landholders should contact their local office to find out about programs in their area.

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